When an Orthodox reposes (dies)

This brief write-up is on a site of the OCA Diocese of the West.

(Two comments:

  • The priest who received me into the Greek Archdiocese also told me we are not embalmed, so that if they ever exhume our bodies in the process of declaring us Saints, they can see if [hopefully!] our relics have been preserved intact by God’s Uncreated Energies/Doings. He also said funeral directors know this.
  • I’m a little weirded-out by some of the talk about organ donation on “Traditionalist Orthodox” websites, eg, spiritual/salvational implications, etc., as well as by recently learning that often donors’ organs have to be removed before death, often technically causing death!
    1. I won’t link to the Traditionalists because I don’t know how well their thoughts fit-in with Orthodoxy at-large on this question. But they point to the idea that we’re supposed to be purifying our “heart,” so if you get implanted with someone else’s “heart,” it’s almost like a science-fiction brain transplant, or you have to ‘start over’ with your spiritual and ethical work! And when Fr. John Romanides somewhere talks about “those whose hearts only pump blood” and about 20th-century discoveries of functions scientists didn’t used to associate with the heart {which I can’t find just now}… [Even his talk about “the illness of religion” consisting in a short-circuit between the circulatory system and the spinal fluid… which I’m not entirely sure he meant metaphorically!!!] And when you hear about transplant patients taking on qualities of their donors even if [as usual to date] they never knew them or about them…! It’s of concern to me, that’s all I’ll say.
    2. Apparently organs are no good to someone else once the body has reached a certain point in its shutdown… which makes sense when you think about it. Cells die without blood, oxygen, etc. But I’m put in mind of the Monty Python sketch about the guy with the organ-donor card: “May we have it?” “The card?” “No, the organ!” “But I’m not finished with it yet!” Now, I don’t buy the fear of the most radical pro-lifers that doctors are in a widespread profiteering conspiracy to kill their patients and harvest their organs; after all, a living patient rings-up more reimburseable expenses than a dead one! But still, I’m concerned about just when, from whom, and under what conditions organs are removed for donation, and decisions are even given to donate. Again, it’s of concern to me, that’s all I’ll say.)
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  1. Rachi

    Interesting..thanks for posting!

    I had never really thought about cremation vs. burial until entering the Orthodox church- my family has always spoken of cremation- though my great-grandmother (who died recently) was buried

    as for organ donation- mum has a rare lung disease and the only current treatment is lung transplant, so I am all for it! but yeah, can kind of see where you are coming from on the conditions thing…I hope I am dead when they remove mine (or at least nearly, and very unconscious!)

    God Bless
    love Rachel xoxo

  2. me

    Hi Rachel!

    As a sign of how selfish I am, when I posted, I was really thinking of them taking organs out of *me* when I wasn’t quite done with them yet, not about benefiting from organs taken out of someone else before *they* were done with them! Thanks for the reminder.

    I pray your mother gets the lung she needs.

    Sincerely,
    Leo Peter




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